Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Finding Halloween treats without nuts is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. I never buy baked goods from the bakery section, so I don't know why I thought today would be any different.

It was the beautiful display of all the colorful cookies and cupcakes that drew my attention. I read every single label and could not find one that would be safe for Amanda to eat. She doesn't eat anything that says may contain peanuts or processed on a plant that processes peanuts. It's just too risky.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shocking article about a school teacher

Did you read the article about the teacher who tried to give an autistic student something that contained peanuts so he would have an allergic and not be able to go on the field trip? You can read it here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Allergic reaction to peanut butter at school

Got a call from the school nurse today because Amanda was in her office. Apparently, another student, who had just finished her peanut butter sandwich had touched Amanda. It affected both of Amanda's arms which was taken care of by taking Benedryl.

Amanda is anaphylaxis when she ingests peanuts. If someone touches her with their hands which have been contaminated by peanut butter, she will get the hives and itching, but will not go into anaphylaxis.

Can someone really have anaphylaxis from touching a trace of peanut butter? I know about anaphylaxis from ingesting peanuts, but potentially dying from touching it? I'd love to hear from someone who has this bad of a peanut allergy. Is is possible? I can't imagine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When a school is not peanut free

Amanda just started 4th grade. Our school does not have a peanut free table for lunch and there are no limitations in the classroom as far as what children can bring for a snack.

Last week Amanda came home and said "Mom, every one at my table in class eats a peanut butter sandwich for their snack".

The next day I was in the nurse's office discussing why my child has to be exposed to something she is severely allergic to. "It's not a peanut free school". The school doesn't even try to put all the peanut allergic in one class so as to alleviate a lot of children in the class bringing in peanut products as a snack.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Accommodating students with allergies tall order

This is an interesting article recently published in the StarPhoenix. It's about asking students to not consume peanuts 2 hours prior to going to class and to only use unscented deodorant, shaving cream and no perfume because a student is very sensitive to these products.

As a mom of child with severe peanut allergies I disagree with asking students to not consume peanut butter. Yes I disagree. You can't ask people to not eat peanut products and you sure can't trust that they will. The deeper issue for me is that all children with peanut and tree nut allergies have to learn to manage their allergies and to be careful not to consume it. But they will always be around people who do eat it which gives the peanut-allergic child a choice to simply move to another spot. Think about airplanes. Many airlines do not ban peanuts on their flights and even if you call ahead and request that they serve an alternate to peanuts, someone can still walk on with a Reeces Peanut Butter Cup or something similar that is loaded with peanut butter.

As far as being sensitive to cologne, perfume, shaving cream and deodorant, well I think we are at one time or another sensitive to these allergens and again the student can simply move to another spot or take an over the counter medication. Being sensitive to perfumes is not life-threatening like being allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. It is simply an annoyance.

You can read the article here:
Accommodating students with allergies tall order

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Press Release out of Houston about a walk for Food Allergy

Houston, TX, August 29, 2009 --(PR.com)-- This September, more than 1,500 Houston-area residents are expected to participate in the 2009 Walk For Food Allergy: Moving Toward A Cure sponsored by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). The goal – to raise $225,000 for food allergy research and education and help the more than 12 million Americans who suffer from food allergies, many of whom live in the Houston area. The forth annual FAAN Walk will take place on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Sam Houston Park in downtown Houston, 1100 Bagby Street, at 10:00 a.m.

Four percent of the U.S population – or one in 25 Americans – has a serious food allergy, which is the leading cause of anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction that results in more than 50,000 emergency room visits each year. The incidence of food allergy is even higher in children, impacting one in 17 children under age three and 3 million children. Eight foods account for 90 percent of all allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, etc.), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.

“There is no cure for food allergies,” said Houston’s Volunteer Walk Chair Michael Lade and father of a food-allergic child. “Strict avoidance of food allergens is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction, so it’s essential to create awareness of this life-threatening health condition that affects millions across the country.”

Lade continues, “Food allergies not only affect the food allergic individual, but also the family, friends and classmates of the individual. Increased understanding of the severity of food allergies is essential for safety, acceptance and emotional stability of these children.”

KPRC news anchor Dominique Sachse again serves as Honorary Chair for the Walk in Houston. Country-music star Trace Adkins holds the position of the National Honorary Chair for the national FAAN Walk series. As an active member of FAAN, Adkins knows first-hand the serious nature of food allergies due to his daughter’s peanut allergy diagnosis following a severe reaction to peanut butter several years ago.

Last year, nearly 1,200 Houstonians participated in the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward A Cure and raised $215,000 for food allergy research and education, ranking it as the top fundraising walk amongst 25 walks nationwide. The FAAN Walk is non-competitive – a distance of 2.5 miles – and participation is free. For more information and to register for the family-friendly walk, visit www.foodallergywalk.org/houston_tx.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A mild allergic reaction to peanuts

Amanda went to one of best friend's home for the afternoon today. Everyone in the home in fully aware of her peanut allergies. My husband picked her up and when she walked in the door she said Mom I need Benedryl I'm getting hives all over. I noticed her eye was also swelling. I gave her the Benedryl then asked her what happened. She said that her friends little brother had eaten a peanut butter sandwich on the table and it hadn't been cleaned up and that she thought it hadn't been cleaned up. She of course didn't know it was there.

This was a mild reaction, but it just goes to show you that even in "good friend's homes" our peanut allergic child is never safe in a home where peanuts are eaten.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another post on Please don't joke!!!

It just happened again this morning.  Amanda spent the night at a friends last night.  The parent knows the drill.

I called this morning to see how she was told "yea, I just gave her a peanut butter crunch cereal".  
Me speechless.  "Oh I'm just kidding!" the parent said.

Well it's not funny.  It made me feel kind of sick and then I was a little down waiting for her to come home, feeling anxiety not being able to go about my day.  All I could think about was every scenario that could possibly happen to Amanda - a child who is anaphylactic to peanuts.

Scary.  I pray every day for her safety.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Canada - such a great country!

Why Risk It?

And they take peanut allergies seriously.  They print on the front of cereals and snacks that the product is peanut free.  Not in tiny print on the back that is hidden in the ingredients section.

Why Risk It - a great Canadian website

I found this great website for peanut and food allergies.  It is called Whyriskit.ca   Check it out.  It has good information and horrifying information for any parent whose child could die from eating a bad food.  Bullying scares me.  Kids can be mean.  Hey, if parents have joked in front of Amanda that the ravioli or whatever she wants to eat contains peanuts, then we can only guess what kids are thinking about to make fun of a child who has peanut allergies.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I say nay to peanuts on Southwest Airlines

I just got back from Los Angeles and now need to regroup and make a post about peanut allergies.  The only thing I can think of right now, because I'm exhausted with the 2 hour time change, is that while flying Southwest Airlines home from LAX to SAT I was offered peanuts by the flight attendant.  I declined because I knew that the first thing I was going to do when I got home was hug and kiss Amanda and I did not want to give her hives.  I didn't need them and didn't miss them.  I say nay to peanuts.  Nice snack - if you are not ANAPHYLAXIS to peanuts.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

NO JOKES PLEASE!

Please don't joke about something  a child that is about to eat or will eat or is eating, that the food contains peanuts in any way.  Not Funny!

Enough Said.

Loving your child, hating their peanut allergies

Does your child's peanut allergies ever make you feel overwhelmed, stressed or down?  I've felt all the above and I'm not afraid to admit it.  I just get plain scared sometimes.  I can't be there or protect her all the time.  And I Never will be able too.  It saddens me and scares me to think something could happen to her.  Of course cynics could say, well she could get hit by a car or die in a car crash or whatever.  But we are talking about the sustenance to life here.  We all have to eat.  And not all of us will potentially die from eating something that our body thinks is harmful and then attack itself by sending the immune system into anaphylactic shock.  Most of us can enjoy eating anything we want - only having to worry about calorie and fat intake.  If that's all I had to worry about with Amanda I would be giddy-happy.  But calories don't concern me at all.  I encourage her to eat fattening foods and all different kinds of foods because I want her to enjoy eating healthy - yet safe food.  She does remain on guard on doesn't eat anything unless I've made it or it's from McDonalds, or Red Robin.  She won't eat anything at other people's homes and NEVER eats cake, donuts, brownies or cookies outside of our home.  Hmmm...is that why she is so petite?  

Does anyone else see this in their child that has a food allergy?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

This person apparently has NO clue what he is talking about

Obviously the writer of this article does not have a child with a food allergy.  If he did, he wouldn't go anywhere near implying that life-threatening food allergies are because we as parents are not letting out children get dirty.

First all, speaking from experience, my daughter Amanda has grown up just like any other child - playing at parks, in sand boxes and rolling around in dirt and mud (literally).  I have never shielded her from dirt.  What I have shielded her from is peanuts and tree nuts which will send her into anaphylactic shock.  Dirt never has.   Here is the article.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This is what I DON'T like to hear about

This is an unbelievable story.  Makes me think a lot about the camp Amanda just went to in June.  How safe are our children really when they have a life-threatening peanut allergy?

Peanut Allergy Death

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blue Bunny Ice Cream

My mom bought some Blue Bunny Ice Cream for she and my dad to have. Amanda was there for a visit and asked for some ice cream. Thank God Amanda reads every label because here it was it said it may contain: walnuts, cashews, pecans and peanuts. What was the flavor? Banana Split. Although the ice cream may not have contained any nuts, the point is, is that is "may have". And may have is a reason to not eat it.

Are sweet rolls safe at McDonald's?


On the way to the swim meet on Thursday, my husband stopped and bought the kids sweet rolls from McDonald's. He didn't think anything about it. Well Amanda did and she wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole. I found out about this when I met up with them at the Natatorium right before the meet started. I told Amanda she did the right thing in not eating them despite how starving she was. I asked Phil about the rolls and he confessed that he didn't ask anyone if the rolls had peanuts or contained peanuts. Aargghh!! Scary mistake!!!! A lot of breakfast pastries contain nuts or tree nuts! That scared me out of my mind that our daughter could have gone into anaphylaxis. Thank God Amanda is so cautious. She really is. I can't say enough about her diligence in not eating a crumb unless she can read the label. But regardless of how good she is about checking labels etc, etc, I'm still a nervous nelly because of mistakes and mislabeling and whatever else can go wrong.
xoxo

Swim Meets and Protecting children with Peanut Allergies

Amanda had her last swim meet last Thursday in a chaotic environment where the kids have to sit so close to each other between events that they are practically on top of each other. At swim meets the children get to eat snacks that the parents provide. They have to stay with their team the entire time. Not a big deal if your child doesn't have a peanut allergy, but it is if your does.

I provided healthy snacks for Amanda. She had the cooler with her and could get something to eat whenever she wanted. Every other child was there too with their snacks. So what's the most popular snack to give a child who is not allergic to peanuts? The peanut butter sandwich of course! And lots of kids had them. This was an uncontrolled environment. No rules can be set for over 300 kids ranging in age from 5 to 18. Amanda did what she needed to do as a responsible 9-year-old and walked away from anyone eating that "poison" sandwich.

There was another incidence where she got a little afraid because her best friend was eating a granola bar next to her. If you have a peanut allergic child, you know that your child can't stand even the slightest smell of peanuts. They also can't stand the thought of someone eating something containing peanuts next to them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sean spied a dragonfly


It's a miracle - with San Antonio in a severe drought (we've had the least amount of rain ever since 2007) and with a record just set of weeks of 100 degree plus days, Sean saw a dragonfly yesterday at our pool. He tried to get it to land on his hand, just like in the book. We are thankful for any dragonflies we see under this very hot, dry season we are in.

I love dragonflies and have written a book called I Spy a Dragonfly.
Available at:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Peanut allergies and tree nut allergies

I was just thinking this evening as my husband and I were hanging out by the pool sans children, that even if Amanda were just allergic to peanuts, and not tree nuts, that she still wouldn't be able to eat tree nuts unless they were made in a peanut free plant. Does that make sense? It's because on the can of cashews we were eating it said "made in a plant that processes peanuts". So that means she would not have been able to eat a cashew. I really never thought of this before because it's never been an issue. She will not eat anything that contains peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans or almonds even though the last 4 mentioned are really not a nut at all. We just don't know for sure until we get her to take a blood test. That's the only sure fire way to know. So for now my peanut allergic child avoids peanuts and tree nuts. And that's just fine with me.

Are you looking UP or Down?

Which way are you looking? Up or Down?
THE BUZZARD:
If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner... The reason is that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

THE BAT:
The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkable nimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

THE BUMBLEBEE:
A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

PEOPLE:
In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up! That's the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem! Just look up.

Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, But faith looks up!

Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and trust in our Creator who loves us.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This is Sean now

Turning 7 years old on 7 -2 -02!!!!!!

Happy Birthday Sean! I love you my sweet angel!

Sean is turning 7 on July 2, 2009


So hard to believe. He's growing up so fast. My sweet baby boy. He was about 20 months here. Now he is turning 7 and going into 2nd grade in the fall.

I love you Sean Thomas - you have brought joy to my life since the day you were born - you sweet angel.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My name may be Peanuts.......


But I say Naaayyyy to PB&J.

My Children's book is finished!!!! It is such a cute story about a little girl living
with peanut allergies. It has a good message and
all the children I have showed it to, love it. They
are the best critics after all, aren't they?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Peanut allergies and Reflux?

On top of Amanda being allergic to peanuts, she was just diagnosed yesterday with Acid Reflux and is now on Prevacid. She had been complaining of stomach pain for weeks, especially after eating, and I had a feeling that's what the doctor was going to us it was. She was first diagnosed back in 2007 and after 8 weeks of treatment it went away.

This has really given me something to think about. Is there a link between food allergies and reflux? Can this be what her problem was as an infant? I ask that because she cried all the time as a newborn. She was always fussy and always spitting up her formula. Her then pediatrician was a new, young doctor who told me Amanda had "colic" the common answer for new mothers from doctors who don't think anything is wrong with the baby. But looking back, all the signs were sure there.

I've often wondered if a lot her stomach ailments through the years have been because she's eating certain foods that don't agree with her. Maybe she has Celiac Disease. We are at the beginning of trying to fix her stomach pain. She is going to do 8 weeks of Prevacid and if that doesn't help then go to the next step. But hopefully this will give her some relief.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Feeling so bad for Diana....

My last post was about my friend and illustrator, Diana Evans, and how wonderful she is. And she is....

But now I am feeling sad for her and her family because Diana lost her nephew who was only 24 years old on the very day I wrote about her last (Tuesday, June 16, 2009).

I don't know why we are dealt these difficult circumstances. Only God does. All I know is that is has happened to me, just happened to Diana, and will continue to happen to the rest of us.

Interestingly enough, the book I'm writing is about people who have lost a loved one and how they have dealt with that loss.

Loss can happen to any one at any time. No one is immune to it. It's just a matter of when. And unfortunately the "when" was now for Diana in loosing her precious nephew Duane.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Children's Book is Finished...

I have the most amazing illustrator. Her name is Diana Evans. She is talented, beautiful and her heart is full of love that comes out in her art. She illustrated my first book I Spy a Dragonfly which is the most beautifully illustrated book ever! The kids love it!!! The adults even love it -which says a lot!! Please feel free to pop by her website and say Hi.

She illustrated the next book I wrote called My name may be Peanuts, but I say Naaayyy to PB& J. It is about a little girl living with peanut and tree nut allergies and the challenges she has, but that she is just like any other kid - she just have to make sure her food is "safe".

The book is so cute and the illustrations are captivating! She will hopefully remain "my illustrator" for a long time to come as I have a few more children's book idea's up my sleeve!

Right now we are deciding whether to self publish this book or to hold out for a tradtitonal publisher. We've heard feedback from both camps. What are your thoughts? If you'd like to see an excerpt of our latest book, just ask and I'll send you a page or two in a PDF file. I promise you'll love it if you have small children - and you'll especially love it if you have a child allergic to peanuts or tree nuts.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A favorite quote.

Wanna hear God laugh? Then tell Him your plans! I love that because only He knows what will happen. Right now I'm planning on getting my next children's book out there and am not sure what to do. Several friends are giving me advice to Self Publish and other's are telling me to hold out on a traditional publishing contract. But what if that never happens? It's a dream to think Random House would pick up my book, but from what I've learned they only accept manuscripts through agents. So how do I find an agent? I've been trying to find out. Only God knows His plan for this book. I just hope His plan is to see it in bookstores!


Saturday, June 13, 2009

A good movie

I just finished watching "The pursuit of happyness". It was really good. It was based on a true story. Wow!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Amanda is back from camp safe and sound!

She's back but she's exhausted!!! She told me that she was offered cinnamon roles at camp and she asked if they peanuts. The cafeteria worker said "No, no peanuts". After scrutinizing the sweet role Amanda determined it might have pecans or walnuts so turned it down. Thank goodness!!!! She also didn't eat ice cream or any treats the whole time because no one could tell her the ingredients. Ice cream was without labels in huge bins dispensed by workers.

She came back starved...but alive. I gave her a chocolate chip mint ice cream cone and have given her all her favorite foods.

Monday, June 8, 2009

We lost a member of our family today

I am so sad that our beautiful, yellow lab, Dixie passed away today.  She was 10 years old and will be deeply missed.  She was diagnosed with cancer last October and has struggled to walk and breathe ever since.  Her existence since her diagnoses has been to sleep the days away.  She was an extremely loyal, sweet girl who walked by my side around the neighborhood without a leash.  She lived to please and had a wonderful life after we took her in on April 21, 2005.

She was a pure bred lab used only for breeding.  The owners decided to dispose of her in 2005 when her litters got so small they could no longer make money.  She had problems then and we knew it but took her in anyway and gave her the best possible life possible.

I have no idea how to tell Amanda when she gets back from camp tomorrow.  She will be crushed for sure.

R.I.P Dixie Chick Burke  5/20/1999 to 6/8/2009  We will miss you.  

Peanut allergies and Summer Church Camp

So the big day for Amanda to leave for camp came on Saturday, June 6.  I took all the precautions I possibly could to keep her safe while at Camp Tejas.  I filled out medical forms, I met the nurses, I gave them her Epi-Pen (they wouldn't take her Benedryl) and made sure they knew the steps to take in case of an accident.   That's what has caused me the most worry - an accident.  At 9 years old, Amanda reads every label before she eats it to make sure it is "safe".  It the food doesn't have a label then she won't eat it.  But accidents can and do happen.  Even to adults who have lived with peanut allergies for many, many years.  I have never been to the camp where she is now so I'm not sure how the food is served.  Is it buffet style or are they handed plates of food.  One of the nurses told me she would inform the kitchen after I mentioned cross-contamination.

On the way to drop Amanda off at the church to load the bus, she said to me, "Mom, I really wish I wasn't allergic to peanuts.  I really hate having to ask about everything I eat".  I assured her that her food allergy makes up just a small percentage of the gifts, talents and challenges God has given her.  

Sending her to this camp was way different from the girl scout camp she went to in March.  For one, she went with a small group who has known about her peanut allergies for years.  Also, one of my good friends who is a Doctor went with the troop as a chaparrone so I knew Amanda was in good hands.

With this camp, there were over 300 kids from our church that went and I don't know any of the counselors, or workers or staff.  No one.

Interestingly while we were waiting for the busses to leave (the kids were already on board), we saw the nurses walk by the plastic bins full of the medication.  Amanda was not allowed to carry her own Epi Pen and the Epi Pen went on another bus.  I turned and said to my husband, what if something happens on the bus?  What is the snack they are serving?  Nutter Butter cookies seem to be a favorite snack these days.  No one knew.  Thank God I packed Amanda's own snack in a back pack.  But what if it's a snack that contains peanuts?  The fumes could affect her breathing - and she didn't have her mask!  There was nothing I could do at that point as the busses started taking off.   And off she went in God's hands.  I just have to trust that He is in control.

So, she left on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. and I have not had a single call.  She comes back tomorrow afternoon and I can't wait to hear about all of her adventures.  She has a shy side to her, so I can't wait to hear if she went zip-lining!


How do get so behind on blogging?

I know how.  Because my kids' last day of school was June 4th (and a half day at that)!  It was a hectic morning that day getting ready for the kids' last day of school parties, talking with the teachers then an afternoon of pool parties.  Oh, and we still had swim practice that evening!

Amanda, my child who doesn't have a lot of energy, was cooked.  It was too much for her.  Sean, who is always in motion was beat too.  I was too tired to even open my Mac.

The next day on Friday, June 6 I was busy running around getting last minute items to pack for Amanda who was leaving for summer camp on Saturday the 7th.  I couldn't believe it was here already.  And I think I was more anxious than she was.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In USA TODAY....TOP STORY ON PEANUT ALLERGIES

Interesting piece on peanut allergies.


Canadian Olympic Freestyle Skier Defies Gravity and a Life-threatening AllergyI

   
 Steve Omischl doesn't let his serious peanut allergy ground him      TORONTO, JUNE 2 /CNW/ - Canadian Olympian Steve Omischl is a high-flying freestyle skier with soaring ambitions for 2010. The North Bay, Ontario native and B.C.-resident recently clinched his fourth World Cup title; however, one of his biggest challenges off the slopes has been his life-threatening allergy to peanuts. To raise awareness about severe allergies, Omischl is teaming with King Pharmaceuticals Canada - the distributors of EpiPen(R) - to let Canadians know that allergies should be taken seriously, but not to let them stop you from achieving your dreams. He's also encouraging people at risk for anaphylaxis to always carry an epinephrine auto-injector - the recommended first line of treatment for someone experiencing a severe reaction, which can be fatal in minutes if left untreated.     Canadians can find out if they are at risk for anaphylaxis by taking EpiPen's Severe Allergy Risk Test available at www.EpiPen.ca.     Omischl was diagnosed as a child after he reacted to a peanut butter sandwich his mom gave him. Despite his best efforts to avoid peanuts, he's had a few serious encounters since then, most notably the day before the final World Cup Freestyle skiing event of the 2007/2008 season in Davos, Switzerland. A bite of a cheese sandwich that had a trace of peanuts caused a serious reaction and fortunately, a medical professional was able to provide assistance. Undeterred, the next day Steve flew twelve metres in the air and executed three perfect back-flips with four twists, winning the event and the distinguished title of World Cup Champion.     "I don't want a peanut allergy to sideline me," said Steve. "I need to be very careful not to eat anything without reading the label first. When you're hungry, you usually eat anything, and fast. I can't do that."     Food is the most common cause of severe allergic reactions. Other common triggers are insect stings, medicines, and latex.     "Aside from the event in Switzerland, I have had a few close calls at dinner parties. It can be tricky when people use different sauces and oils, which may contain peanuts," explained Omischl. "I have learned the importance of having my EpiPen with me at all times. Obviously, it could save my life."     Because Steve is often travelling to far-away places for competitions, he makes a point of showing new people he is travelling with how to use an EpiPen, "I also reassure them that's it's not a big deal to use it, it's very simple - just remove the cap and inject into the mid-outer thigh."     "Steve's story underscores the importance of how vital it is for people with severe allergies to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with them wherever they go," said Mary Allen, Chief Executive Officer of the Allergy/Asthma Information Association (www.aaia.ca). "Steve is truly an inspiration to others, proving that people who have severe allergies can realize their dreams and live active lives," concluded Allen.     A 2007 national study revealed that only one in five Canadians at risk for an anaphylactic attack remember to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with them at all times.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why do good people die so young?

I previously posted in April about giving platelets.  I've done it for years.  My husband quipped recently that I've probably saved a lot of lives.   I didn't save Deb's though.  I met Deb at the Blood and Tissue Center in San Antonio years ago.  She was in remission from Leukemia.  It came back in November 2008 and she never left the hospital.  She was a dynamic, beautiful person with a 9 year old daughter.  And she was a great blogger and writer.  She died on May 18 and I was deeply saddened when I read about her death that day through following her sister's blog.

I really miss her and think about her every day.
You can find her blog and story below.
Deb

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Monday blues

Monday's are always very busy for me.  I noticed recently that I always "subconsciously" don't do chores, housework, cooking or cleaning on weekends.

Weekends for us are a time for family - just the 4 of us.  We go on adventures, we eat at our favorite restaurant, Willies, and we just enjoy each other.

Last weekend (Saturday) started off with a swim meet.  I noticed with some families one or the other parent was there to root the children on, while the other parent left to enjoy some quiet time at home.  We are doing everything together lately (and enjoying every minute of it!) so all four of us were there during the entire swim meet.  Most of my friends had long since taken off and left the "dads" to stay and root for the kids.

After the swim meet we went to eat lunch then came back home hung out together.  No chores, no cleaning, just enjoying each others' company.

So it's no wonder that when Monday morning comes around, I spend hours cleaning and organizing the house back into shape after the kids leave for school at 7:20 a.m. and Phil leaves for work.  It's just that before I know it, the kids are home from school and off we go to swim practice, then home to make dinner, clean, put the kids to bed and then I realize....I get to do this all over again tomorrow.  Minus a couple hours of clean time.  I did all the laundry today.   Yay!

This week also marks the last week of school.  Thursday, June 4 is the last day school!  So I'm gearing up for summer.  I will have literally no time to myself which equates to very minimal writing time.

Alas! I have an idea.  Sean just finished 1st grade and can now read pretty darn well.  Amanda just finished 3rd grade, and is well on her way to reading 300 page novels!  So I'll just have "quiet time" for them to read and I  can work on my writing...or read.  I'm reading "The Hummingbirds Daughter" by Luis Alberto Urrea.

Thank you God for my children.  I love them dearly.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Amanda is the one looking at the camera

The water was so cold this morning.  Poor thing had to wake up at 6:30 this morning to get to the meet.  Such discipline!

Amanda's first swim meet was today also!

She is a natural who just glides so smoothly through the water.  We first took her in our pool at 6 months when the weather warmed up and she's been swimming ever since.  She's never even had a formal lesson!

Way to go Mandy!!

Sean's first swim meet today!

With his famous jack-o-lantern look.  He's 6 and was so fast in the free style.  Every one was amazed.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The reason I changed my Blog's name

So I started this blog to blog about Amanda's peanut allergies.  And there is certainly a lot to say about that subject.  Then I started feeling a bit repressed.   I wanted to post more about my life and both of my beautiful children - all of which I am so thankful for.  So I changed the name because really I am a story teller and I love telling a story each day about life.  Hence the name Life Happens.  And I really am a busy mom.  So I'll stick with this name for a while.

I have been trying to upload photos of our lovely hermit crab so ineptly named Paradise but the pictures I took were from a disposable camera because my digital stopped working at the beach.  I was, to say the least, mortified that my beloved camera could stop working at such an inoppertune time like a family vacation, but it did.  And I am deeply saddened, being the rookie photographer that I am.

So I'm off to Costco in search of the perfect camera.  What do you think?  Sony?  Nikon coolpix that Ashton Kutcher pitches?   

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A crab who was crabby

As if getting stung by a jellyfish while in Port A wasn't bad enough, after school today the hermit crab that we had bought Amanda at the beach clamped on to the palm of her hand and wouldn't let go.  He was all balled up in his shell holding on for dear life with his claws in Amanda's hand. Amanda was screaming at the top of her lungs and we could not get the darn thing to let go.  My mom turned white as a sheet and I got well, freaked out.  After many unsuccessful attempts to get it off while Amanda was crying and sweating I called 911.

I'm not going to ever call 911 again - not even if the house is on fire.  Don't get me wrong, I love fire fighters and have tremendous respect for them, it's just that one of them looked so much like my brother (tall, thin and handsome) and the emotion it evoked in me was overwhelming to say the least.  I just love them all.  They are our heros.  What would we do without them?  We're just less one awesome fire fighter whom I miss like there's no tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

honestly.....

I think I didn't update my blog for so long because I was thinking about my brother, Jay and the upcoming date of the anniversary of his death (I last blogged May 10, he died May 17).  I don't know if anyone else does it, but it's like the weeks before the day Jay died is actually harder than the date itself.  At least that's how it is for me.  I re-live every moment of what I was doing and what I imagine he was doing until the day he died so unexpectedly and so tragically....until the moment he was.....gone.......forever.  In those weeks.....those days are hard.  Every moment is hard.  Holidays are hard too, but there is no count down.  His birthday is hard, but there is no count down.  Not like the date that he actually died.   And that's how it is for me.  

and the next weekend....a trip to Corpus Christi


on the anniversary of my brother's death, May 17 2005 - a day i'll never forget.  miss you Jay.




Sean lost a tooth



Saturday, May 9th - the day before Mother's Day, Sean lost his second tooth.   He lost his first tooth at Disney World on October 9th and Tinkerbell came into his room and sprinkled fairy dust.

A memory I'm sure he'll never forget!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I have fallen off the blog wagon!

And now it's time to get back on!  I've had so many things happen since I last blogged that I don't even know where to start.

Since I last blogged:
Amanda and Sean made the swim team and have since started practicing 4 days a week after school - love it!

Sean lost a tooth.

Went to Corpus Christi - the city my brother last lived - and died in.

We went to Port Aransas for a family vacation and had a great time.

And, thankfully no peanut allergy incidents, although Amanda and Sean (yes both kids) got stung by a jelly fish at the beach.

And I am busy being a mom - love it!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Pony Says Naaay to Peanuts

He prefers carrots to PB&J hands down!  And please don't put peanut butter on my crackers! I am allergic to peanuts!!!!  Thank you.

Amanda and Sargent

Thanks to Divvies

I forgot to mention that when I ordered a box of Chocolate Chip cookies from Divvies  last week, what came in the mail was a nice surprise.  They sent me 1 dozen Oatmeal Raisen cookies for free as a Mother's Day gift.  How awesome is that?    Thanks Divvies!!!  They are out of this world good.  Amanda loves the fact that on the front of the packaging it says Peanut and Nut Free!

Thanks Lori (the owner of Divvies) for your comment.  We would love to tour your facility and in the mean time I'm spreading the word about how good your cookies are. 

I just watched the video of Lori's  son showing Martha Stewart how to make cupcakes.  He is adorable!  I'm sure Benjamin will have his own cooking show some day!  Now I need to order some cupcakes.  Yum!

Please make sure your tuna says "Dolphin Free"

This trip to Disney World last October really enlightened me about Dolphins.  We now only buy tuna that says Dolphin Free.  Amanda eats a lot of tuna sandwiches since she can't eat peanut butter.

A Peanut Free Planet

Thank you Diana who sent me this link today peanutfreeplanet.  A totally awesome site full of wonderful food for children with peanut and tree nut allergies.  I never knew I could get so excited about shopping for food!!  This is a very exciting discovery for me.  I will be ordering soon and will let you know what the expert (Amanda) says.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Divvies Arrived!



I ordered some Peanut Free Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal cookies last week and they just came in last night.  On the front of the box it clearly says   MADE WITHOUT PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, EGGS, MILK    

These cookies are made by DIVVIES

And they best part?  They are yummy.  We all gobbled them up, even Sean who is not allergic to peanuts but doesn't like cookies that much.  Yes he has not been exposed to cookies or cakes because of Amanda's peanut allergy.  We simply just don't have a lot bakery goods laying around our house.  Sean (age 6) doesn't like chocolate either (again because I don't have chocolate in the house because of Amanda) but he gobbled up the Divvies chocolate chip cookies saying they were yummy.  This is how afraid Amanda is to eat anything new.  Even though she clearly read the label stating no peanuts or tree nuts she was still VERY hesitant to try them.  With much coaxing she took a very small bite and deemed the Oatmeal Raisin cookie one of the best she's had.  Besides Mom's of course.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Product recall on Market Pantry Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars

Market Pantry has recalled their Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bars that have a "Best By" date of "18JAN2010" and were sold in 15.2-ounce boxes containing 18 bars per box. The product contains peanuts, which are not listed as an ingredient on the box. People with peanut allergies can suffer serious or life threatening allergic reactions if they consume the product.

Most children that have an allergic reaction to peanuts is usually always accidental.   Granola bars have never been a safe food for me to buy.  Every box I have looked at says "may contain peanuts" or "processed in a plant that manufacturers peanuts".  We just simply stay away from ALL granola bars.

Food labels that clearly state "Peanut Free"!



These pictures were sent to me by my wonderful friend and illustrator Diana who saw these products in her grocery store in Ontario, Canada.

They clearly state on the front of the box "Peanut-Nut Free".  How awesome would that be instead of looking for it on the back?  I don't know of one manufacturer in the U.S. that puts that on the front.  If you do, let me know.  I'll probably buy the products.  I know for sure it would make shopping for peanut free and nut free products so much easier.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Be Aware of Cookies from McDonald's

I went through the drive through at McDonald's the other day to get my children a happy meal.  When I got the food, the lady gave me 2 cookies and said, "here are some free samples of some cookies McDonald's is trying out".  I took the cookies, wrapped in a wrapper and drove off.  When I got to my children's school to deliver their lunches, I read the label on the cookies.  And wouldn't you know?  An innocently packaged sugar cookie in the shape of Ronald McDonald's face said on the label "this product may contain peanuts".   It was written in such tiny print I couldn't have read it had it not been for the bright sunlight.

Those cute little cookies McDonald's was giving out are not safe for a child allergic to peanuts.  McDonald's has always been a "safe place" for Amanda to eat, who is allergic to peanuts.  The restaurant does have peanuts though because they serve them with some of their desserts.   

We've never had an incident there, but it's good information to be aware of.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No to Snyder's Pretzels

I always thought pretzels were a safe food for Amanda to eat.  They are so good.  We love them.  We have always bought Rold Gold pretzels not thinking twice about anything.  Then our school recently sent home a note saying if you are sending pretzels for the class snack please send any brand except Snyders because this brand says "Processed on equipment that processes peanuts and tree nuts".  Snyders makes peanut butter pretzels so they have to make that disclaimer.  The chance for cross contamination is there.

Interesting to me is that they make gluten free pretzels.  That's good because there are a lot of children allergic to gluten (found in wheat, rye and barley.  But on that very package it does have the allergy information about peanuts and tree nuts.   Amanda has 2 children in her class who are allergic to wheat and peanuts - so they can't eat these pretzels either because of the risk of ingesting a trace of peanuts.

My book was featured in the Indie North Newspaper!


Friday, April 24, 2009

No to energy bars that contain traces of peanuts.

Yesterday Amanda was invited to go to a horse stable with a friend after school.  I spoke to the mom and knowing they were going to be gone awhile the mom told me she was packing snacks.  I said nothing with peanuts, ok?  She said, oh of course not.

After school I met with Amanda and told her she was going to the horse stable and the mom was there and said "I have snacks - energy bars".  Red flag warning.  Typically there are no safe energy bars or granola bars.  I don't know this to be true for all the bars because I haven't looked into it but my red flag went up.  Good thing.  I asked to read the package on one and Amanda read the package on another flavor.  Both said "contain traces of nuts".

We can never assume another adult who doesn't have a PA child will look at every label of a snack before giving it to a PA child.  Thank God Amanda can read labels - and she does diligently!!! Yay!

Today Amanda was out of school and was with me on errands when she got really hungry.  We were in a store and someone offered her some cookies to take the hunger pains away until we could get to lunch.  We always have to ask, and the cookies were innocent to someone as they were gluten and wheat free to some who has Celiac disease, but they had Pecans.  A no no to someone allergic to tree-nuts.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dragonfly dreams

Well we've had some rain....so where are the dragonflies?  I still have not seen a single one yet.  I think it's because we are still in a drought and in need of more water.  It's almost May and they are usually climbing there way out from being a nymph for several years by now.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dum Dum lollipops

Dum Dum Lollipops are a safe candy for peanut allergy kids.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Focus on the positive


I really like to focus on the positive in life.  Yes I live with a child who has a peanut allergy and it can at times be scary.  There's no denying that.  But Amanda has so many great things about her and it is my hope that she can treated like any other child - she just can't eat the same things.  But as you can see from this photo, not being able to eat PB&J sandwiches hasn't hindered her growth at all.  Here is Miss Athletic in our backyard pool.

What a brilliant idea!


My wonderful friend Diana Evans who, is illustrating my next book sent me this picture of some Quaker Oat bars sold at her local grocery store.   She lives in Ontario, Canada.  Look how on the front in big bold letters it says PEANUT-FREE.  Wow with labels like this we wouldn't even have to read the ingredients.  That would make feeding Amanda so much easier.   My problem is that the label where they list the ingredients is so small.  Lately, though I have seen some improvement where a few manufacturers are putting  "Allergy Information" listed separately.  It makes it a little easier to look for - but it's still on the back.

Where I shop I wouldn't have even bothered reading the ingredients on this type of food. I would have just walked on by, because they most certainly always say....may contain peanuts or the newest phrase I'm seeing....processed in a plant where peanut products are produced.  Cross-contamination is the main thing I have to be aware of and diligent about when I see labels like that, so we just steer clear of it.  

Back from donating platelets

Well that took long than I thought.hour   The whole trip for me was actually 3 1/2 hours because when you get there they have to make sure you are healthy enough to even give platelets.

So as I sit here gobbling up the Grandma's Sandwich Creme cookies that I picked up at the Blood center, I just happen to see that on the back in very small print it says,  

Allergy information:  This product is made on equipment that also makes products containing peanuts.  

This is exactly why Amanda is afraid to eat cookies at all.   The manufactures are putting that on so many of their products.    

Wouldn't it be nice if one day manufacturers put PEANUT FREE on the front of food items?  We could probably get our shopping done in half the time!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A prayer for Deb

This has been consuming my mind and breaking my heart so I just have to mention it.   I met Deb at the Blood and Tissue Center here in San Antonio.   I was giving platelets and she was there to say thanks to the staff and to everyone giving blood and platelets - which was essential for her to survive and eventually go into remission from Leukemia.  She is a beautiful, inspiring person.

I was so deeply saddend to learn of her relapse in November 2008.  She is in the fight of her life.
Read when she was diagnosed here:


I'm going to give platelets today.  It's a 2 hour process (plus drive time), but it's relatively painless.  You are just hooked up to a machine that takes your red blood cells and platelets.   The last time I gave platelets they told me the platelets were going directly to Methodist Hospital to save an infant's life.  I've done it a lot these past few years since I've known Deb.    

I started giving platelets in September 2005 after the catastrophic hurricane Katrina (http://www.katrina.noaa.gov/)  hit the gulf coast.   Many, many people were in need of blood transfusions and platelets.  

And if you feel like giving blood or platelets, please call Tracy and the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center at 210-249-4436.  You could save a life.

Soy nut butter

Thank you Katy who commented here today.....thanks for the info. on soy nut butter.

Here is the link: http://www.soynutbutter.com

It looks like a yummy alternative.  I am going to pick some up next time I go to the store.  Since Amanda was diagnosed I've been making her cream cheese and jelly sandwiches.

Thanks for sending the link my way.

The Allergist

After our scare with Amanda we took her to see a top Allergist in Dallas.  He us prescription for an epi-pen and told us to carry it with us at all times.  One thing he said that I found interesting and that I have never forgotten, is that he thinks there might be a correlation between how much peanut butter I ate while pregnant with Amanda and her peanut allergy.  I did eat a few peanut butter sandwiches.  It was like comfort food to me and that became a snack that I loved.

I didn't think much about that until a few years ago when I was reading about children being diagnosed with a peanut allergy at less than a year old.  How on earth they were diagnosed I don't know.   When I think back to when Amanda was a baby, she cried all the time.  She was extremely fussy.  I had a young pediatrician who just told me she had colick.   She was also always sick and would spit up her formula.  I mean projectile vomiting.  I took her to see the doctor a lot, but he always said the same thing - colick, or crying for no reason, or that babies do cry.  I was so happy to stop using formula because the throwing up stopped.   Is it possible for a baby to be born with peanut allergies?  She also had eczema and itchy skin and would get blotchy.   I'm sure I ate something that had peanuts in it back then and kissed her.   I wonder if she was allergic back then?  Or did giving her that tiny bite of sandwich give her the allergy?  I wish I knew.  W

Does anyone have a child who was diagnosed at a very young age that didn't eat peanut butter?  How did you find out?  And what prompted you to seek help?  Does anyone have a fussy baby and the doctor suggested a blood test to test for allergy's?
I'd love to hear your stories.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Living with a child who has a severe peanut allergy

Hi everyone - I decided to start posting about what it's like to live with a child who is allergic to peanuts because my daughter Amanda, who is 9, has a severe peanut allergy.

She was born on November 11, 1999.  In October 2001 she had her first anaphylactic reaction to peanuts.  Anaphylaxis is a whole-body allergic reaction that comes on suddenly and causes the airways to tighten.  I was eating a peanut butter sandwich and like most 23-month-olds, she wanted what her mother was eating.  I tore off a tiny little piece and gave it to her.  Back then I had really never heard of peanut allergies and didn't know of any child that had peanut allergies.  I was more worried about the consistency of peanut butter and that it might get stuck in her throat.

Within seconds her face started swelling and she started pulling at her ears.  I immediately knew something was wrong and panicked.  I threw her in my car and drove to the nearest emergency room about 3 miles away.   I parked in front of the ER and was so frightened for my child's life that I didn't even turn off my car or shut the door. I knew something was terribly wrong and that time was of the essence.  I carried her into the ER and the receptionist saw that this child needed help immediately.  She didn't even bother with the normal process of checking in. 

 Amanda was having trouble breathing and her face was so swollen that her eyes were almost completely shut.  A nurse carried her back as I was telling the doctors that I had given her a small piece of my peanut butter sandwich.  They knew immediately what to do for her.  The doctor gave her a shot to open up her airways and told me she was in anaphylactic shock.   She was throwing up, which is the bodies way of ridding a substance it recognizes as poison.  She was itching, her airways were quickly closing and her face was swollen.   All tale-tell signs of a severe allergic reaction to peanuts.  

Amanda was eventually stabilized and we went home several hours later.  The doctor told me I needed to get Amanda in to see an Allergist.  The only sign that remained that she had an allergic reaction was the swelling in her face which did not completely go down until the next day.

I suddenly found myself thrust into the world of living with a child who has a severe peanut allergy which I knew nothing about.  All I knew was that I needed to find out everything I could about peanut allergies and how to keep my child safe. 

Next step - call a really good Allergist in Dallas and get Amanda in to see him.

Check back for more postings on this issue....I hope to blog every day about this.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring has sprung

It's official, Spring is here.  The first day of Spring was March 21st.  As we drove home from Horseshoe Bay today I saw bluebonnets (the Texas state flower) all along the highway.  What a beautiful sight it was to see.

I am still on the lookout for a dragonfly.  I still have not seen one yet.  I can't wait until they come out.  If you see one let me know.  I'd love to hear from you.

A picture of a beautiful dragonfly

Friday, March 13, 2009

Update on "I Spy a Dragonfly"

Hi everyone,
Just an update to let you know that if you click on the picture of the book, it will take you directly to my publishers website and you can purchase it and have it in a matter of days.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Here is a link to buy "I Spy a Dragonfly"

http://www.booklocker.com/books/3903.html


You are one click away from buying this book.  It is for children ages 4-8 (however my 9-year-old and all of her friends love it).

The pictures inside the book are full of bright colors that children will love even if they can't read.

The children will love it!  They will also love that in the back of the book there are fun pages to see how many dragonflies you can find and some coloring pages so your child can use their imagination.

Thanks for looking:)
Carla

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Diana drew these tulips for me


I love all flowers, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be tulips.
Thanks Diana for these beautiful tulips.

My book is for sale at Booklocker.com




Thanks for looking:)


I Spy a Dragonfly is now for sale!

It is finally out and available to buy.  So far it's available at Barnesandnoble.com and Booklocker.com.  It should be available at Amazon.com any day now.

I'm still holding on to my one copy I received in the mail.  I can't seem to put it down:)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Email from Angela

I received an email from Angela as to what to do about the final step in getting this book out.  It could be out within days after I email her back.
This is all so exciting!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My book came in today!!

I can't stop looking at it.  It is stunning!  It is beautiful!  I am looking at the first hard copy of my book "I spy a dragonfly".  It is more eye-catching than I could have ever imagined.  And it's all because of Diana Evans!!!  She is such a talented artist, who details in this book through her talent, all the beauty that nature has to offer with the vivid colors she chose for this book.  She also did the cover which is so breath-taking!


Amanda was with me.  So we pull into the neighborhood - me still shaking - and Amanda says she wants to stop and get the mail.  I did not want to.  I wanted to get home and stay home, but it was a simple request on her part so I drove past our home down the street to the mailbox to let her get out to get the mail.   

And there is was in a priority mail envelope that I will probably never throw away.....was my book!!!! I opened it and the sight of the book took my breath away!  Also at the mailbox I ran into a very good friend of mine whom I hadn't talked to in awhile.  She was the first to see my book and give me congratulations....but she bestowed a bigger blessing on me than she will ever know.
More on that later.  Right now I need to call Diana and tell her the news about the book!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

did you see that pig???

The picture from national geographic?  It is so cute.  A mother and her young....what life is all about.

Yeah!!!!

The book in collaboration with Diana is even closer to print, thanks to Diana who did so much extra work to get this book to where it is today....at the printer!!!!! Hopefully we will have a release date in the next couple of days.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Book to remember

Here is the cover page to my children's book.  I just love the colors and illustrations throughout the book.  Diana Evans created this beautiful cover and all the pictures throughout.  I will probably be talking about her a lot, so to simplify things I'm going to refer to her as Diana so everyone will know who I am talking about.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The files have been uploaded

and I am so excited about the completion of my first children's book with illustrator, Diana Evans.  It's only a matter of time until we get the final approval before the book goes to print.  I can hardly wait until will have a release date!